Discussion of carbon emissions has been a big part of sustainability in the last decade. With this discussion came the calculation of a carbon footprint for every product. A carbon footprint is the total emissions caused by the production of an item, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalents. The carbon footprint of an item relates to the greenhouse gases emitted during production and delivery of items.
The Government of Canada has set a GHG emission target for emissions to be 17% lower than 2005 levels, by 2020.
Determining the carbon footprint of any item is a highly complicated process. It is difficult to get an exact calculation due to all the complex interactions of production, materials, and natural processes of storing and releasing carbon. Because of this most, carbon footprint calculations are a well educated estimate.
In recent years, the office furniture industry has faced increasing pressure to become more environmentally sustainable and lower carbon emissions. One of the best ways to lower emissions is to repair and reuse items for as long as possible.
The Limitations of Repair
Repairing products is not always possible, either because an item is too worn to fix, the materials are too flimsy to repair, or the manufacturer has specifically designed a product to not be fixable except by very expensive certified technicians (looking at you, automotive industry, particularly agriculture equipment).
But, some items can be repaired or refurbished. Repairable items might not seem like the most affordable option at first glance.
But, in the long run they are actually more affordable, and have a lower environmental impact.
The Carbon Emissions of Office Chair Production
An estimated carbon footprint for an office task chair is 72 kgCO2eq. The lifespan of a low quality office chair can be as short as 6 months. Low quality chairs have negative ergonomic impacts on the health of employees, as well. That means every time the chair is replaced, the business is responsible for another 72 kgCO2eq being pumped into our atmosphere, and the chair ends up as waste in a landfill.
On the other hand, a higher quality chair, built with stronger materials that can be repaired may last 15 years or more, meaning your business is only responsible for that 72 kgCO2eq once or twice over the course of one person’s career.
Refurbish, Remanufacture, Reuse, and Recycle
We have 4 R’s at Envirotech: Refurbish, Remanufacture, Reuse, and Recycle. Our repair technicians are experienced and our repair processes are efficient. We recycle top quality office furniture and repair, refurbish, or remanufacture it. We make sure all usable material is harvested and we make sure the minimal waste we create is disposed of responsibly.
Furnishing your office with reused, refurbished, or remanufactured office furniture drastically lowers your greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint. The carbon footprint of our processes is miniscule compared to brand new production, and we are actively working to make it even smaller. The bonus is, the furniture is also significantly more affordable than buying brand new furniture.
Considering the number of government offices and sectors all across the country, furnishing those offices with refurbished and remanufactured office furniture would have a drastic impact on the government’s own carbon footprint. Not only would this impact carbon emissions and improve sustainability, it would provide a great example for the entire country of more environmentally and financially responsible operations.